Uma Bharti rejects Centre`s request to break fast

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday rejected the Centre`s appeal of breaking her fast, over the issues related to protection of the Ganga river and conservation of Himalayas.

Last Updated: May 31, 2011, 15:05 PM IST

Dehra Dun: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief
Minister Uma Bharti on Tuesday rejected the Centre`s appeal of
breaking her fast, over the issues related to protection of
the Ganga river and conservation of Himalayas.

In a letter to Union Minister of State for Environment
and Forests Jairam Ramesh, Bharti said she cannot accept his
request of breaking her fast as the issues raised by her have
not been addressed so far.
Ramesh had talked to Bharti over phone yesterday and also
sent a letter requesting to end the fast.

Bharti said she is still awaiting her joint meeting with
him and Prime Minister to find a solution to the issues
related to protection of Ganga and conservation of Himalayas.

"I hope, you will inform me about the date of meeting
with Prime Minister in a day or two," she said.

Bharti began her fast on May 9 at Chandighat area
demanding review of hydropower projects especially in
eco-sensitive Himalayan region, enactment of a law in
Parliament declaring Ganga as national heritage as well as
withdrawal of proposal of shifting of ancient Dhari Devi
temple at Srinagar Garhwal due to construction of 330 Mw
Alaknanda project.

However, she decided to take juice and other liquid diets
on May 18 on the assurance of Uttarakhand Chief Minister
Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank that the ancient Dhari Devi temple
would not be submerged in the reservoir of 330 Mw Alaknanda
Hydropower project at Srinagar Garhwal.

"But I have been informed that the temple is going to be
submerged in the waters of Alaknanda as the construction work
is going on. I urge you to immediately stop the work around
the Dhari Devi temple," she said.
Bharti further said the option of relocation of Dhari
Devi temple would also not be accepted as this has been a
center of faith for the people for years.

Bharti also called for setting up a separate board
consisting of environmentalists, scientists, religious minded
persons and locals to prepare a report about Ganga and
Himalayas.

Centre has declared Ganga as the national river. But
without enacting a law, it is difficult to conserve the river,
she said.

In this regard, she said a draft of rules and regulations
and punishment for their violation should be prepared to enact
a law on Ganga protection otherwise the accordance of status
of national river to Ganga has no meaning.

In his letter, Ramesh had informed Bharti that a
technical team of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests
would shortly visit the site of Alaknanda project and examine
the matter related to relocation of Dhari Devi temple. He said
the team would submit its report by Jun 21 following which
any action would be taken.

The Centre had handed over the work of evaluation of
environmental impact of hydro power projects being developed
in the basins of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers to Indian
Institute of Roorkee last year. The study has been completed
and its finding would be made public by this weekened, Ramesh
said.
Meanwhile, he said on the basis of the recommendations
of the IIT, Roorkee, the ministry is considering a proposal to
fix a minimum flow of water from each power project, which
will be 3 to 4 times of the water flow required for
environmental clearance. The minimum flow will ensure the
availability of adequate water in two rivers all the time, he
said.

Ramesh said his ministry has also asked the group of 7
IITs to prepare a comprehensive plan for environment
management of Ganga river basin. The first part of the report
would be completed by the end of next month and it would be
made public immediately, he said in the letter, adding
thereafter the action on its recommendations would also be
taken.

PTI